As many people can attest, finding your first (or second, or third…) job can be difficult. Newly employed in the legal market, I gained valuable perspective about the job hunt. The biggest lesson I learned is that you cannot knock on all the doors alone, and you cannot just sit on a computer all day applying to jobs. Instead, tap your connections and resources for help.
Here are the 5 lessons I learned during my legal job search, although they definitely apply to anyone looking for a job in any industry:
1. Connections are key. The people you already know are valuable. Do not hesitate to reach out to your connections. Find professionals at job fairs, through your professors, friends, families, old coworkers, etc. Reach out or have someone introduce you to a professional you admire. Once you know one key person in a company, you already have your foot in the door.
2. Advertise yourself. Do not hesitate to let people know you are looking for a specific job because you never know who may have a suggestion or connection. Also, it is helpful to let people know your specialties, so that your strengths are communicated to potential connections.
3. Don’t settle. It may seem impossible to find your dream job. You may want to give up, or take the first offered position. Remember that you are an asset – you have been training for this through years of education and experience. You are worth more than just a job, don’t settle for less than a career.
4. Use a recruiter. This may seem like a shameless plug, but it is completely free and only takes five minutes of your time to reach out to a recruiter. Recruiters have more connections because it is their job – and their connections are seeking qualified candidates like you. They are also aware of opportunities that could better suit you, such as a non-traditional position that you may otherwise never hear about.
5. Ask for help. The legal community, along with many other niches, are tight knit. Members of your professional community have been where you are, and they are willing to assist you in a career move. Additionally, they are in touch with other professionals in the field and likely know of open positions.
In the end, you cannot find a job alone. The more help you receive, the more likely you are to land a position that will add value to your career. Get on a recruiter’s radar, advertise yourself to your current connections, and let them help you find your next career move.